Your Take on E-Commerce Food – Take it or Leave it?

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My best friend texted me this photo of the dinner she cooked from Blue Apron last week: Spiced Roast Chicken & Collard Greens.

Okay, y’all. I’m really curious to know your thoughts about something. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last couple of months, you’ve noticed the TV commercials and advertisements promoting the “dawn of e-commerce food,” essentially the creation of perishable food manufacturing businesses. Dozens of companies like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron and Plated, are springing up around the country with this notion of revolutionizing the way we shop for groceries and stock our refrigerators. We’re talking about changing the way people think about food or as one employee at Plated puts it, “Changing the world by making our food system fundamentally better.” When it comes to our foodways, is quality and convenience upstaging tradition?

I find the concept absolutely fascinating! I mean, if I had told my great grandmother Elnora, that one day, she could visit a website, click a button or make a phone call, and within a few days have meals delivered straight to her door, she would have looked at me as if I had three heads! The strides we’ve made in technology are seriously amazing.

Each company basically boasts the same message: Fresh food delivered to your door, at a better value than you can get at your local grocery store. And not just fresh food, but perfectly proportioned, farm fresh ingredients sourced locally and seasonally, including step-by-step chef-concocted recipes. Foolproof! Genius! Why haven’t we thought of this before? But when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Or is it? Take a look at these ads:

My first thought about these services was they must be for folks who either can’t cook or aren’t able to drive themselves to get their own groceries. As I’ve considered it more closely however, I see the appeal for everyone! Not only does the service save you time and the laborious weekly trip to the supermarket, but it exposes you to new ingredients and takes the guesswork out of weeknight dinner planning (all the while supporting local farmers). I’m having a very hard time seeing the downside. We’ve discussed a few positives, so let’s consider some potential negatives:

  • Proportions don’t allow room for seconds. What if I’m still hungry?
  • Relying on delivery could become problematic. What if I live in a rural area and they aren’t able to find my location?
  • Cost. Is the quality really “at a better value than my local grocery store?”

Also, I can’t help but think about how these companies will affect grocery store chains and local supermarkets. But, maybe that’s the point. If more and more people begin using them, will grocery stores take a major hit? What will that mean for the economy? On the upside, the greatest motivating factor? Ingredients are sourced locally. I can definitely get behind organizations partnering with established farmers’ markets and local artisans.

I haven’t personally tried ordering from any of these companies, but even as someone who enjoys cooking, I’m very tempted! I’m super interested to know what you think. Have you ordered from one of them? What has your experience been? Were you able to follow the provided instructions without a hitch? Most importantly, did the food taste Some Kinda Good? Make me a believer!

As a final thought, Forbes released a great video of an Executive Chef comparing Blue Apron and Plated. See for yourself and let me know your take.

 

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